A Shortage of Marriageable Men?
We discuss the idea that a “shortage of marriageable men” seems like a strong explanation of falling marriage rates.

A recent study uses multiple imputation to develop an analysis that implies falling marriage rates to be a result of too few (economically) marriageable men. We discuss the idea that a “shortage of marriageable men” is a strong explanation of falling marriage rates.

Victoria Reyes is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Riverside. She recently published the widely acclaimed Global Borderlands: Fantasy, Violence, and Empire in Subic Bay, Philippines with Stanford University Press.

Photo Credit

By LearningLark – https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6738328799/, CC BY 2.0, Link

2 Responses

  1. Hey all,

    I wanted to throw my .02 into the conversation as to the discussion about the possible lack of marriageable men in the marketplace. Sorry that this is so long but I find this topic really interesting and feel I may have some insight as to the possible mismatch from personal experience.

    First, some facts about myself. I’m a 35 year old white dude, single never married, and make a little over 6 figures living in the DC area. I have no debt and my MBA. Right now, I’m a consultant.

    My personal feeling is that women today, based on discussions with my own female friends, is that women are less likely to settle today than they may have been in the past and less likely to get married due to social pressures than they may have been before. The social stigma attached to “old maids” just isn’t as strong as it used to be in previous generations. I also think, and it may just be because of my DC area bubble, than women more deeply identify with politics and politically affiliations (ie. politics are a deal breaker now) than in the past. It’s important to state that all of these women have at least their bachelors and a couple have professional degrees (one MBA, JD).

    As to the preference of women vs. men, I think it’s important to remember that in the past 10 years the amount of student loans taken out have skyrocketed and the primary holders of these loans are women.

    If women are in fact pickier when it comes to education and income due to their own educational achievements and debt levels, the mismatch in marriageability could come from traits that affect high earning men in the global economy. I’ll briefly explain what I had to do to get my six figure income from the time I was 25 to the time I was 32 to give some insight into the mismatch.

    After I graduated college (in 2007. [duh duh duhhhh], I had about 10K in loans due to taking 5 years to graduate with my bachelor’s degree. I graduated from a large state school in Florida. In part to pay off the loans quickly and in part because I wanted to give back, I joined a program called AmeriCorps NCCC (I was headquartered in Maryland) which is a national service program ala Peace Corps except the project work is entirely domestic. For this particular program, you complete service projects, roughly 4 a year, in different states and cities. I completed two terms and was able to use my education award to pay off my debt. After returning to Florida, the job market was still rough due to the Great Recession (see duh duh duhhh from above) and worked making around $25,000. I did this for about a year and a half before moving to Boston to try to find better work opportunities. I succeeded in finding a job making $30,000. I did this for another year or so before deciding to go to school. I moved to Iowa to attend the University of Iowa. After two years of course work (and $60,000 in debt), I received my MBA and started work as a logistics analyst for a wind turbine OEM. I also worked a second job in order to quickly pay down the debt, which entailed another 25 hours a week as a customer service rep. I was able to pay off the debt in two years but, unfortunately, due to health issues in my family I was not really able to enjoy the new found debtlessness (A word? possibly. A state of mind? Most assuredly) and returned to Florida to be closer to my family. Also unfortunate was that I was not allowed to retain my job with the wind turbine OEM and had to scrounge for temp work for two years while the health storm passed. I was then able to ship up to the DC area and begin my current role as a consultant.

    I tell you all that to say, and I have no idea how common this is, but the path to getting a decent paying job and living a middle class lifestyle just is not the same as it used to be. Companies seem to have no incentive to either a). pay for the training of their employees or b). think in any kind of cost benefit analysis when it comes to retaining good employees (I’d argue because of a). I didn’t date a lot during this time because I was either broke or had no time or I knew I was leaving in short order so it made no sense to invest the time in trying to get to know someone. Also, when the company needs you to move, you gotta move.

    High income men are funneling more and more to those major cities where one can actually see a return in the (often) massive investment in time and loans that we now call college. If you’re lucky, you may get to stay in one place but the demands of the new income may cause instability when it comes to relationships, unfortunately.

    Right now, I’m at a crossroads so I may be moving on again but I am currently on dating apps and OKC. An observation I have made is there seems to be two groups that are more attracted to me than others:

    1). Professional women who are 3-5 years older than me, typically lawyers or doctors.

    2). College educated women, aged 27-33, who have 1-2 children.

    One of your panelists mentioned, I think it was Leslie, that the old assumption was that women were more likely to “settle” for men who have money and sacrifice looks, culture, and money. I also think that assumption is dead (at least for women). I think they are much more looking for an equal partner (see the movie UP) who are into the same things they are (especially if those things are exotic foods and international travel).

    Between you, me, and the internet, I would rather be single than date either of the above two groups.I would prefer, as a sample size of one, 3). college educated women (bachelor’s or higher) who don’t have kids or debt and who are more attractive or much more attractive than I am. I feel that men are less allowed to say today that looks are really important to them; I believe guys go for looks and girls go for status (and maybe adventure).

    Thanks again for listening to my rant. Hope it helps!

  2. II´m a Civil Engineer, finally looking to settle, and this is my view from the other side:
    Yes, there are far more women than men to choose, but it is not just that women abound. As a man, I do not need a woman with education or high income. I want a pretty, nice, hot and young girl.
    Because I do not care about female education or income, I can pick many orders of magnitude more women than “the educated ones”.
    Also, educated women are older, and I want young girls. A younger girl is not much hotter, but by being much lower than me on the social scale, I get plenty of confidence about her finding me, more desirable, and thus I can trust her far more than I would ever trust a woman with my same education and income.
    The poorer the girl, the most attractive. She also desires a richer and more educated man, and the difference is much larger if she is a uneducated cashier on a supermarket. It makes a marriage far more solid.

    I enjoyed having hookup culture with university girls, but now they are old, and I know how much sex they had at the uni. They cheated shamelessly, and I do not want to be cheated. The young cashier is not going to cheat, because I’m so much valuable to her, and she didn’t had enough time to have sex with the entire department of structures.

    TLDR: No, I am not just scarce, but “educated women” are not even on my radar. They aren’t on the market.

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